Imagine if the Pittsburgh Penguins could ever keep their lineup at 100 percent? Scary as it is, it almost seems like it is destined to never become true. The Penguins were dealt a huge blow to their lineup when Rob Scuderi went down with an injury after a hit by Toronto Maple Leafs forward David Clarkson made him twist and fall awkwardly on his leg.
He did not return, and it forced the Penguins to shift Deryk Engelland back to defense for the rest of the game and have them skate with only 11 forwards. If Scuderi is down for an extended period of time, that could mean rookie defenseman Olli Maatta could get a shot at playing with Kris Letang.
That pairing seems to be a match made in heaven as both are excellent skaters, making either a threat on the rush, but Maatta is responsible enough defensively to stay back while Letang takes the chances he is going to take.
It’s fun to look at the future, but it would be horrible that it comes at the expense of Scuderi, who signed back in Pittsburgh after leaving to the Los Angeles Kings after the Pens’ Stanley Cup victory. ‘Scuds’ is a fan and player favorite, and losing him would be detrimental to the already struggling penalty kill.
Robert Bortuzzo would likely be the next player to slide into the lineup, or the injury it could open the door to the Penguins calling up Simon Despres and continue to have Bortuzzo as the seventh defenseman. That would depend on how the Penguins truly feel about Engelland as a forward, although his value may have gone up playing the wing now as if he is in the lineup.
Sunday will be an interesting day if we hear anything on Scuderi’s condition with the Penguins facing the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday.
Anthony Murphy is a contributing writer for RantSports.com. You can follow him on @AMurphyTFC.